New Fast Company: Innovation as Resource
I'm back to blogging at Fast Company, and my latest piece is now up: Innovation as Resource and China's New Magnetism.
The U.K.'s Independent reports that China has been gradually cutting the amount of rare-earth elements it exports, now down 40% from seven years ago. China now exports only 25% of the rare-earth elements it mines. [...]
So what are our options? We (as in, the non-China parts of the industrialized world) could try to pressure China to sell more, but that's unlikely to work--and China tends not to respond well to even mild criticism. We could try to rapidly reopen the now-closed rare-earth element mines, but mining is, frankly, an environmental nightmare and incredibly dangerous--hardly a sustainable practice.
Our best option is to innovate our way out of the problem.
China, and to a lesser (but increasing) extent India, can be seen as "leapfrog superpowers" -- undergoing a rapid shift in global status, a shift which remains incomplete. China has more influence and importance on the global stage than it is willing to admit (preferring to call itself a developing nation), but not nearly the power that some fear.
The question is, does the immense potential power of China (and India) make a leapfrog transition easier or harder?